Here is my article for The Catholic Thing for this month. It is a few thoughts on the symbolism in Evelyn Waugh’s masterpiece, Brideshead Re-Visited…and here is a piece on Brideshead for The Imaginative Conservative.
A friend once observed that Brideshead could stand for the Catholic Church – the “bride” of Christ who is the “head” of the Church. Is that a flight (excuse the pun) of fancy? I don’t think Evelyn Waugh was writing an allegory, but there are interesting symbols interwoven into the story, which unlock the deeper Catholic significance of the work.
Firstly, the palatial home is certainly greater and more ancient than the ephemeral Flyte family whose story occupies Waugh’s plotline. Sebastian Flyte tells Charles Ryder that Brideshead had been an ancient castle before an ancestor took the stones and re-built what another antique aunty called “the new house.” That it was Catholic then is echoed by Lord Marchmain’s reflection that, in his marriage and conversion, Lady Marchmain had brought the family back to the “religion of his ancestors.”